Gov. Kelly wants state tourism office back in commerce department

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – Governor Laura Kelly is trying to move the state tourism office under the Kansas Department of Commerce. It is currently grouped with the Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism, and has been since 2011.

State leaders said tourism can be used more as an economic tool to benefit businesses. Lieutenant Governor David Toland, who also served as commerce secretary, said the change could help market destinations in Kansas better.

He highlighted what he said are the state’s strengths like outdoor tourism, museums, and athletic events to get more people to explore Kansas.

“We think this is both an opportunity to have a more efficient and effective tourism operation at the state level, but also to bring new dollars, new people into the state as we work to grow our economy,” Toland said.

Tourism was taken out of commerce in 2011 under Governor Sam Brownback. Toland said the move back would benefit the department as well as businesses in the state.

“This is a good government, commonsense move, that is really being pushed by the industry, we know that the hospitality industry has been hit in our state extraordinarily hard by COVID, and it’s important that we listen to what they want in terms of how the state can support them,” Toland said.

The change would take effect in July, but either chamber of the legislature could decide to vote it down within the next 60 days.

The state tourism office has 11 full-time and three part-time employees.

The move is also supported by KDWPT Secretary Brad Loveless.

“It’s exciting to see tourism being positioned as a key part of our state’s economic development strategy,” Loveless said. “I fully support this decision and look forward to continued collaboration with the talented tourism division staff to promote our state’s wonderful natural resources.”

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